March 8th, 2010
10:49 AM ET
5 years ago

Republicans reject controversial images of Obama, Pelosi

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A page from an RNC PowerPoint presentation that surfaced last week contained cartoonish images depicting President Obama as the Joker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Cruella DeVille and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as Scooby Doo.. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)

Washington (CNN) - Top Republicans had harsh words Sunday for a leaked Republican National Committee document containing images skewering President Barack Obama and other top Democrats.

"There is no excuse for that type of stuff," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told NBC's "Meet the Press." He added that he is "ashamed" of it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, on ABC's "This Week," was asked whether such messaging is helpful. "I can't imagine why anybody would have thought that was helpful," he responded.

The PowerPoint presentation described high-level Republican donors as "ego-driven" and claimed they could be enticed with "tchochkes." The document included a slide - titled "The Evil Empire" - with cartoonish images depicting Obama as the Joker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Cruella DeVille and Harry Reid as Scooby Doo.

Since the presentation was leaked to Politico, Republicans have been working to distance themselves from it.

Last week, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele described the document as a presentation that "a staffer" put together for "a small group of about nine or ten folks and thought that they would intersperse the presentation with humorous shots.

The Democratic National Committee, meanwhile, is expected to come out with an ad this week highlighting the controversy and the images that many consider offensive. The commercial asks, "Today's Republican Party: Is fear all they have left?" The DNC says the ad should start running on cable television in Washington and a few other markets beginning Monday or Tuesday.

Steele condemned the document, but would not say if disciplinary action would be taken against the official who created it.

McConnell, when asked Sunday by ABC whether someone should be held accountable, responded, "I don't run the RNC. That's up to them. But I don't like it, and I don't know anybody who does."

Hatch, on NBC, said, "I don't want to condemn somebody but the fact of the matter is I'm ashamed of that."

When asked whether Steele should lose his post, Hatch responded, "I don't think Michael Steele knew about that. If he did, I would be very concerned. I like Michael Steele."

He added, " He made mistakes like everybody does, but he's a good face for our party. I think he's articulate, he's smart, he has a lot on the ball. He's going to get criticized no matter what he does but he was one of the first to come out and say that was irresponsible."

Steele, in an interview Thursday with Fox News, did not say who was responsible for the document, but said he asked RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart "to get to the bottom of it." Reports suggest Bickhart was the
staffer who made the fundraising presentation to GOP donors in Boca Grande, Florida, last month.

"Those are images that were pulled off the Internet, they've been out in the public domain for a while, and you know, a staffer was putting together a presentation for a small group of about nine or ten folks and thought that they would intersperse the presentation with humorous shots," Steele said.

Doug Heye, the RNC communications director, told CNN on Thursday that there are no plans for either Bickhart or RNC Finance Chairman Peter Terpeluk to leave the committee as a result of the controversy.

-CNN's Peter Hamby, Mark Preston, and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: Mitch McConnell • Orrin Hatch • RNC
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